Human papillomavirus status of head and neck cancer as determined in cytologic specimens using the hybrid-capture 2 assay

David F. Smith, Zahra Maleki, Diarmuid Coughlan, Zhen Gooi, Belinda Akpeng, Takenori Ogawa, Justin A. Bishop, Kevin D. Frick, Nishant Agrawal, Christine G. Gourin, Patrick K. Ha, Wayne M. Koch, Jeremy D. Richmon, William H. Westra, Sara I. Pai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective A standardized assay to determine the HPV status of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) specimens has not yet been established, particularly for cytologic samples. The goal of this study was to determine whether the hybrid capture-2 (HC-2) assay, already widely used for the detection of high risk HPV in cervical brushings, is applicable to cytologic specimens obtained from patients with suspected HNSCCs. Materials and methods Fine needle aspirates (FNA) of cervical lymph nodes were pre-operatively obtained from patients with suspected HNSCCs and evaluated for the presence of HPV using the HC-2 assay. HPV analysis was performed on the corresponding resected tissue specimens using p16 immunohistochemistry (IHC) and HR-HPV in situ hybridization (ISH). A cost analysis was performed using the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Results HPV status of the cervical lymph node metastases was correctly classified using the HC-2 assay in 84% (21/25) of cases. Accuracy was improved to 100% when cytologic evaluation confirmed the presence of cancer cells in the test samples. The estimated cost savings to CMS using the HC-2 assay ranged from $113.74 to $364.63 per patient. Conclusions HC-2 is a reliable method for determining the HPV status of HNSCCs. Its application to HNSCCs may reduce costs by helping to localize the primary site during the diagnostic work-up as well as decrease the interval time of determining the HPV status which would be relevant for providing prognostic information to the patient as well as determining eligibility for clinical trials targeting this unique patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-604
Number of pages5
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Cytology
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • HPV
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hybrid capture 2
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Human papillomavirus status of head and neck cancer as determined in cytologic specimens using the hybrid-capture 2 assay'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this